Unicolored Tapaculo Scytalopus unicolor


Justification of Red List category
This species is restricted to a small range, in which habitat loss and degradation are causing a slow population decline. Even though the population size has not been quantified directly it is likely small, and therefore the species is assessed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common to fairly common (Stotz et al. 1996).
Currently, 60,000-80,000 ha within its range are covered by forest with 75% canopy (Global Forest Watch 2021). Assuming that this species occurs at a similar density than a congener (S. robbinsi in Ecuador: 2 mature individuals in 7 ha of forest; Hermes et al. 2017), and further assuming that half of the forests are occupied, the population may number 8,500-11,500 mature individuals. This number however requires confirmation.

Based on the spatial spread of records (eBird 2021) and accounting for the generally low dispersal abilities of tapaculos (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003), it is conceivable that the species forms several small subpopulations.

Trend justification
This species is assessed as being decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 2003).
Currently, tree cover within the range is lost at a rate of up to 7% over ten years (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). While the species is forest-restricted, it appears to tolerate some degree of disturbance, as long as a dense understory vegetation is present (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2020). Population declines are therefore tentatively placed in the band 1-9% over ten years.

Distribution and population

The species occurs on the eastern slope of the western Andes in Cajamarca and La Libertad, Peru.


The species inhabits dense, shrubby understory of humid montane forest at elevations of 2,000-3,170 m (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2020). It appears to tolerate some habitat disturbance (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2020). Its biology and ecology are to date largely unknown.


The species is threatened by the loss of forested habitat through logging, conversion for agricultural purposes and fires (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known for this species, and none of its habitat is protected (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2020).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Quantify the population size. Research the species's biology, ecology, behaviour and subpopulation structure. Research the impact of threats on the population size. Monitor the population trend.
Establish protected areas within the range. Consider establishing reforestation projects to facilitate movement and restore dispersal corridors between disconnected habitat patches. Raise awareness for the species and its habitat.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Butchart, S. & Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Scytalopus unicolor. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/unicolored-tapaculo-scytalopus-unicolor on 04/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 04/12/2023.